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Christmas markets, festivals, fairs and lights across Kent from this weekend

From Christmas markets to festivals, fairs and some of the last lights switch-ons, here's our guide to what's happening across the county this weekend, and beyond.


Elaine Man picks up a mini tree last year at Rochester festive market Picture: Steve Crispe
Elaine Man picks up a mini tree last year at Rochester festive market Picture: Steve Crispe

The popular market returns to Rochester Castle Gardens this weekend. From Saturday, November 30 visitors will be able to browse stalls packed with unique gifts and stocking fillers while listening to festive music and enjoying a glass of mulled wine. Alongside it, there will be a Bavarian food village and a funfair with live entertainment - and guaranteed snowfall. It will be open all this weekend on Saturday, November 30 and Sunday, December 1 between 10am and 6pm. It will then be back for a three-day stint on Friday, December 6 until Sunday, December 8 and again from Friday, December 13 to Sunday, December 15. On Fridays rides cost £1 and activities are also half price.


The city's Santa's grotto, which is open from Saturday, November 30, will have special Santa Paws sessions for well-behaved pooches to meet Father Christmas on Wednesday, December 4 and Wednesday, December 11 between 11am and 4pm, for £4 per dog. Father Christmas will be in the magical grotto in Whitefriars until Christmas Eve. Tickets for children cost £6 each. There will also be a festive market on the same dates. Details at whitefriars.co.uk

Santa Paws will be meeting fellow four-legged visitors
Santa Paws will be meeting fellow four-legged visitors


Shrek will be entertaining the crowds on Friday, November 29 in Rainham with the switch-on at 5pm and entertainment in the High Street from 3.45pm. The lights will be switched on in Strood on Saturday, November 30, at 5pm, with family entertainment from 3.45pm and a special appearance from Kung Fu Panda. There will also be live performers to keep visitors entertained.


Santa Paws will get tails wagging at the National Trust site near Borough Green on Saturday, November 30 and Sunday, December 1. The retired guide dog, dressed as Santa, will be giving out dog treats to canine visitors. Festivities run until Monday, December 23 and from Boxing Day to Sunday, January 5, with a festive market and Father Christmas. There will be a Victorian toys garden trail & crafts. More at nationaltrust.org.uk/ightham-mote


The Great Hall will be decorated for Christmas, with a fire roaring and carol singing on Saturday afternoons from Saturday, November 30 to Saturday, December 21. There will also be a festive pop-up shop, a trail and festive crafts. Details at nationaltrust.org.uk/knole


West Malling's free Christmas Festival will support the Heart of Kent Hospice in Aylesford when it is held on Sunday, December 1. There'll be a Santa's Grotto, trampoline, teacups and carousel as well as stalls, crafts and hot food and drink between noon and 5.30pm, with the switch-on at 5pm.

The West Malling Christmas Festival is coming Picture: Phil Lee
The West Malling Christmas Festival is coming Picture: Phil Lee


A log cabin festive market is coming to Jubilee Square in Maidstone High Street from Friday, November 29 until Sunday, December 15, Mondays to Saturdays from 9am to 5pm and Sundays 10am to 4pm. Choose from foodie treats to quirky novelty hats and gifts.


The Faversham site holds its Christmas market on Sunday, December 1 with festive treats, local crafts and the chance to travel on the Polar Express miniature railway through the frosty orchards to Santa’s grotto. Kids can meet Santa in his grotto, and pick up a gift while parents can enjoy mince pies and mulled wine. There will be handmade gifts by local businesses and refreshments also include hot mulled cider. The event is free with a small extra charge for the railway. Details at Brogdalecollections.org

Christmas at Brogdale in Faversham
Christmas at Brogdale in Faversham


The Yalding-based trust will be holding its Christmas Fair on Saturday, November 30 between 10.30am and 3.30pm. There will be a craft fair, a choir and refreshments in the popular Sage & Time Cafe. To find out more go to kenwardtrust.org.uk/events


Switch-ons to see this weekend include on Saturday, November 30 in Sandwich there will be a parade through the town, entertainment and food stalls.

Jan Anton enjoying the parade for the Sandwich Christmas lights switch-on last year
Jan Anton enjoying the parade for the Sandwich Christmas lights switch-on last year

The lights switch-on for Sheerness will be at the Clock Tower in the High Street on Saturday, November 30. There will be stalls and entertainment, plus a Santa Saunter at 3pm and lantern parade at 4pm, and switch-on at 5pm. The lights in Sevenoaks will be switched on on Friday, November 29 between 6pm and 9pm. There will be fairground rides, stalls and the cast of Aladdin at the Stag Theatre and the Mayor, Cllr Nicholas Busvine, will flick the switch at 7.30pm.


Besides the ice skating in Calverley Grounds, which runs until Sunday, January 5, and has two rinks, Santa is also in his cabin until Christmas Eve. Book at thelittleboxoffice.com and tunbridgewellsatchristmas.com

Santa has also arrived at Royal Victoria Place. His Arctic forest-styled grotto will be a festive fixture through to Christmas Eve. A visit costs £7 per child. Sensory Santa visits will be available on Tuesdays. Details at royalvictoriaplace.com


The house is open and will be decorated for a traditional Victorian Christmas Eve with lights sparkling in the low light and the atmosphere of anticipation surrounding you until Monday, December 23 and again from Boxing Day until Sunday, January 5. On selected dates, Father Christmas will be hosting storytelling and meet and greet sessions in the house. Children can also take part in the Noah’s Ark trail. Normal admission applies. Find out more at nationaltrust.org.uk/scotney-castle

Christmas at Ightham Mote
Christmas at Ightham Mote


At Emmetts Garden near Westerham from Saturday, November 30, until Monday, December 23, and again from Boxing Day until Sunday, January 5 there is a Christmas Fairy trail in the garden where children can look for the fairy doors and decorated trees. Details at nationaltrust.org.uk/emmetts-garden

To find out what’s going on in the county and for all the latest entertainment news click here.

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